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Finding Cozy Through Your Five Senses

As winter takes hold of the landscape by blowing cold winds that strip trees bare and each morning’s frost drapes a chilly blanket on fields, walkways, and forests, the weather pushes us inside to seek out warmth and coziness.

When we hear the word cozy, things like soft blankets, warm fires, and comfy chairs come to mind. But what if we went beyond the basics and chose to surround ourselves with cozy things that appeal to each of our senses? What if we took the time to cocoon ourselves in cozy surroundings making our homes softer, slower, and gentler for the season? When the days are dreary and we wait patiently for the return of green grass and trees and the warm sunshine on our faces, we can make our homes a place of respite and peace.


On gray days and dark nights, light can be just the right thing to elevate a mood. In this season, it is common to find candles, fires, lamps, and twinkle lights glowing in homes to bring visual warmth. It is also a season for visual textures. In my home, I put up thicker curtains with a warm pattern and add new pillow covers. These are two things I change with the seasons to create visual interest.

Maybe watching a movie that is your favorite or a movie that sets the right mood brings visual coziness. Or maybe it is a particular color you use in your décor, an art piece that you love, pictures of your friends or family, or curling up with just the right book that brings the cozy.

Another way to appeal to our sight is to create an environment that fits our definition of cozy. For me, I like clear counters and tables to decrease visual clutter. Others fill tables and shelves with loved items that inspire sweet memories of people or experiences. Whatever your preference, create a visual environment that speaks to you.

What do you use to create a visually cozy environment?


Curling up in a comfy chair or couch under a warm, soft blanket is a simple way to make any place cozy. We can also create the feeling of coziness by leaning against soft pillows, sitting in front of a crackling fire, taking a shower or bath, wrapping our hands around a warm mug, or snuggling in bed.

What do you use to create a feeling of coziness?


When the chilly days begin to take over, our favorite cold weather meals work their way back into our meal rotation. Our crockpot works overtime cooking soups and chili, my husband bakes crusty loaves of bread, and my daughter keeps the oven busy with cookies of all shapes and flavors. Hot drinks like tea, coffee, and spicy cider warm up cold mornings.

What are your favorite cozy meals or drinks?


Stepping into the house after a long day of work to be greeted by the savory, spicy smell of chili in a crockpot brings almost instant coziness. And is there anything that smells better than baking bread? The tastes that bring coziness also fill our house with delicious scents.

Another way to appeal to your sense of smell is through candles, wax melts, and essential oil diffusors.

What is your favorite way to bring cozy smells into your home?


The sounds we purposefully bring into our homes or the noises that naturally occur in our day-to-day lives can both set the mood for coziness. Music is an obvious way to create the atmosphere you desire in your home. Maybe you use some soft classical or instrumental music as a backdrop to reading a good book or working on a favorite hobby. Maybe Motown classics or the music of Crooners sets just the right mood for an evening cooking and baking in the kitchen. Or your favorite songs of the present and the past can encourage a little impromptu family dance party.

Soup simmering on the stove, or the fire crackling, or a cat purring in your lap can all set the mood for coziness. Maybe the sound of a storm rolling in, when the thunder rumbles gently in the distance brings coziness. Or maybe it’s silence you desire. 

What sounds set the mood for your coziness?


There are many ways to create a cozy home that is tailored specifically to you. Take some time to really think and ask yourself questions about what appeals to you personally and how you can use your senses to create a peacefully cozy environment.

Best wishes for a cozy season!

Six Ways to Practice Self-Care

If you came here looking for aromatherapy and bubble baths, you’re in the wrong place.

Practicing self-care is more than just pampering.  It’s learning to take control of situations, being more organized to keep life more calm, and realizing it might be time to ask for help.

This time last year, I felt like I was just surviving.  Working in an emotionally taxing job, keeping up with my duties as a wife and mom, and having additional commitments in various ministries was starting to wear me down.


“Wear me down” is too soft of a description. If I’m honest, a better way to describe my life is that I was feeling run over. By a truck. A really, really big truck.

I had to figure out a way to get myself together before the candles I was burning at both ends burned me along with them.

Here are some of the ways I learned to stay sane.

1. Stop the mess before it completely takes over

In college, I learned this really interesting concept called entropy that has stuck with me because I  see it everywhere.  Entropy is the idea that everything will gradually decline from order to disorder. I clean off the island and later that day, someone has put a small pile of homework papers.  It’s okay though, that’ll be easy to clean up later, right?  Then someone puts the mail there and a plate and then an empty box of cereal and before I know it, I can’t even see the surface anymore.  It's chaos. That’s entropy, my friends.

Have you ever heard the saying about eating an elephant?

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.  

Or more specifically, a little bit every day.  If my family spends 10 minutes a day picking up before bed, we can combat the mess that is sure to multiply if it is ignored. Then, when those surfaces are clean, there are no random socks in the floor, and the dishes are in the dishwasher and not in the sink/on the counter/on the island, and I can relax in my chair and read a book. 

What’s one thing you can do every day to keep a mess from getting out of control?

2. Make it a team effort

I admit I like certain things done in a certain way. Maybe you can relate. The problem with wanting to control the situation is that I try to do everything myself, which in turn makes me feel overwhelmed. That’s not good self-care.

It’s time to take some of that load and responsibility and pass it around to the other people living under your roof.  Assign chores, tasks, responsibilities, jobs, or whatever you want to call them.  Hey, they help make those messes, the least they can do is help clean them up.

How can you make this work at your house?

3. Prep in advance

Here’s a taste of what life used to sound like every morning before school.

“Mom, I can’t find any clean underwear.”

“It’s in your drawer.”

“No it’s not!”

“Yes, it is. *sigh* I’m coming in there.”

You get the picture. Basically, things existed in my house, but no one could ever find them. These conversations drove me crazy!

This past summer, I knew I wanted the new school year to go differently so I came up with a plan. Although it hasn’t been perfect, it’s been really great at making mornings less chaotic.

Every Sunday after church, I sit in front of the television and fold all the laundry.  I start a load of one kid’s, then the other kid’s, then the parent laundry, followed by towels and bedding. I watch television which allows me to relax while I do this mindless task.  

As I fold, I make outfit piles for each kid, including underwear and socks, and put each outfit in a hanging cubby hole in each kid’s closet. They choose an outfit from the cubby, in no particular order, every morning before school. 

Let me tell you, it has made my mornings smoother. It is so nice to get in my car and head to work not feeling frazzled and stressed. Calmer mornings are worth the marathon laundry/television sessions on Sunday afternoon.

What is one way you can prepare to eliminate some of the stress in your life?

4. Have a day of rest

Saturday is usually the calmest day of my week.  I do my best on this day to make sure I’m recharging my batteries. I sleep in, enjoy a cup of coffee or two (or three), and enjoy a good book. 

If I do have to leave the house, I spend a little extra time taking care of myself.  This is when I take a long, relaxing shower, do a body scrub, and deep condition my hair.  Saturday is a day of rest, but it’s also a day of pampering. A good portion of my life is spent taking care of others, so it’s important for me to take a day of rest because it keeps me more physically and mentally healthy.

Do you make time for rest?

5. Be healthier

I’m at the age where my back hurts for no reason and my ankle knows when rain is coming. 

I’ve come to terms with the fact I’m getting older and my gray hair can prove it. My health needs to be a priority. I take multivitamins, pre and probiotics, and elderberry gummies. I wear a watch that tracks my steps and I try to be good about drinking water.  I also try to get in some exercise.  

Recently my husband and I found a punching bag on sale at the sporting goods store so we bought it and put it in the basement. I have pink boxing gloves and I built the perfect playlist for getting my frustrations out/getting exercise. It’s awesome.

What can you do to create a healthier lifestyle?

6. Do it anyway

I love to stay up late and read. It’s my favorite. Do you know what’s not my favorite? Feeling terrible the next day because I stayed up late to read. I don’t want to go to bed at a decent time, but I do it anyway. 

Sometimes I want to veg out in front of the television and not have to think about anything, but I also need to spend time with the Lord and read my bible.  I want to do nothing, but tending to my relationship with God is the better choice.  I never regret that time.

I don’t always want to eat healthy, but I do it anyway.

I don’t always want to get up a little earlier to make the mornings smoother, but I do it anyway.

Sometimes, I don’t want to give up my Saturday night to hang out with friends, but I do it anyway.

Self-care isn’t always saying no to things. Often taking care of yourself means saying yes to things that are good for you. Even if you don’t always feel like doing it, do it anyway.

What is something good for you that you should start doing?

Taking care of yourself is essential because when you take care of yourself, you can be a better friend, worker, and family member, and you can be better at loving those around you.

What is one change you can make today to practice self-care?

This post was first published by the author on hardnaaklife.com.

The Gift of a Peaceful Morning

This morning as my dogs and I made our way down the driveway for our morning walk, I was struck with gratefulness. In the cold, wet winter, walks are rare, but spring is here is full force. Sometimes the rain keeps us inside, other times the sun has difficulty shining through the dreariness of an overcast morning making it too dark to walk. 

Today was different. 

After days of rain and gray clouds, this morning was so bright and peaceful. I whistled for my dogs and was answered by the snort of a deer hidden in the brush. I walked down my driveway, my feet crunching on gravel and seed pods from the sweet gum tree that stands as a tall sentry overseeing all that occurs below. I stopped to listen to the birds singing to each other from the treetops, their songs ushering in the plethora of spring mornings to come. All these things remind me to embrace the calm every day, to soak up every opportunity for peace that is presented.

How will you seek peace today?

Moving Toward Minimalism

If you saw my house right now, you would think I had no knowledge of the concept of minimalism. 

We are in the process of packing up one house to move to another and we look like a bunch of hoarders.  I’ve already taken thirty-ish boxes made up of linens, out of season clothing, toys and craft items, books, and random closet stuff to the basement of the other house. It still looks like I’ve not moved a thing.


The pile of boxes in my living room and the almost empty bookshelves are the only indicators of a relocation.

Despite the mess that is my life right now, I am very interested in the concept of minimalism.  I desire empty tabletops and counters, minimal furniture and décor, capsule wardrobes, and a modest house that is not consumed by stuff. I’ve made slight changes in my life to push me closer to this lifestyle, but as this preparation to move has shown me, I am nowhere close to where I want to be.

I know what I want minimalism to look like in my life and I have a plan to get there.  It will take time, planning, getting my husband and family on board, and some self-motivation.  It’s not going to be the easiest of tasks because it takes dedication, but I have an action plan that I believe will work for my family.

1. Delete Clutter

The Idea

For a while now, while prepping for our move, we’ve been living in chaos.  I’m not even exaggerating. Boxes, piles of random items, and all horizontal spaces filled with stuff.  Lots and lots of stuff.  Stuff I don’t even really care about, but I feel frozen when I look at it. Where do I even start?

Minimalism encourages us to clear out the clutter.  If we remove the clutter from our houses, it will help us live in a cleaner, clearer, more restful home.

Our Solution

We’ve been filling bags with things to both toss and donate.  I’m not going to lie though, there have been times where I’ve just cleared out a closet and tossed everything in a box without even sorting.  I know I’ve made work for myself later, but I also know half the stuff sitting in boxes right now won’t make the cut.  They’ll be sorted out to live life in someone else’s home or, in some cases, the garbage dump.

2. Small Scale Living

The Idea

Tiny house shows fascinate me.  For a few years now, I have been enamored with the idea of getting rid of 95% of my stuff and moving into a small home, possibly on wheels, and living a streamlined, paired-down life.  Living like this seemed so freeing. 

Until I went on a recent vacation with my family, that is.

Our Solution

There is nothing like one bedroom, kids on the pullout couch, one bathroom (aka one toilet) living to bring you back to reality.  Now don’t get me wrong, I could totally live like this. In fact, scores of people around the world would love to live like this. But at this point in my life, it's just not feasible. 
For our family, it is important to create a space where people feel comfortable and welcome.  Although we are moving into a larger home, from approximately 1300 square feet into 1500 square feet, it is still modest compared to other homes in our town, and certainly other homes in America.  So, while we need the room to spread out, we chose not to build a large home so we can maintain a level of coziness for our family and friends.

While we could certainly survive in a smaller home, we welcomed the opportunity to build a modest home suited to our needs.  Not too big, not too small, but just right.

3. Streamlined Wardrobe

The Idea

Walking into a closet that has minimal, but purposeful clothing is a goal I have for myself and family.  I find myself drawn to Pinterest posts that show capsule wardrobes based on season or style.  I love the idea of less laundry to fold and put away, and fewer clothing items laying in the floor of my kids’ closets and rooms.  Less clothing also means the ability to get rid of dressers in my bedroom, possibly creating a nice reading nook.  A better use of space, for sure.

Our Solution

Slowly, I have been removing out of style and out of size clothing from closets and dressers around my home. We dropped off bags at the local thrift store and I sent things to an online website to be consigned.  Updating my wardrobe has been easy, especially since I shop second hand from online retailers.  My goal is to create a small wardrobe for work and play that uses the same color scheme (black and white) and can utilize the same few pairs of shoes for these outfits. 

4. A Calm and Cozy Space

The Idea

Sometimes people hear minimalism and assume stark, white rooms with a single chair and no comfort to be found.  Our house is a home that’s meant to be used by the two kids, the two dogs, the cat who loves to snuggle, parents who like to veg out on the couch and watch Netflix, and visitors who will come to enjoy a warm meal and warm companionship.

Our Solution

Minimalism and comfort can certainly coexist.  This involves rooms that are not full of furniture, counters and surfaces that are clear of clutter, décor items that have meaning, and an overall less-is-more approach. While we will not have clutter, we will have items that create a cozy atmosphere.  There will be nice smelling soy candles to create atmosphere, a basket of blankets next to the couch, and rocking chairs for porch sitting.  Our home will be a place of peace and comfort.

5. Simplify Life

The Idea

Simple living is a concept I admire because, in a world of stress and noise, it allows a slower, quieter pace.  When I think of simple living, I think of gardening, making homemade meals, playing slow, soft music, reading a good book, taking an evening walk, and just adopting a slower, more intentional life.

Our Solution

Moving from a subdivision to 10 acres in the country has been a great motivator to slow down. We’re encouraged by a piece of property that will allow for some livestock and chickens, a garden and orchard, a pond with fish, and woods for exploring.  It practically begs for its owners to adopt a simpler way of living.  We have also built a house conducive to rest and relaxation with plenty of room for outdoor living.

Our hope is to use these minimalist concepts and apply them to our new life at Naak Acres. 

Have you thought about adopting a minimalist lifestyle in some form or fashion?  What steps have you taken to move in this direction?

This post was first published by the author on hardnaaklife.com.